As November approaches, some dog owners start to worry about how their pooches will cope. For some, it's a very stressful time of year, and managing your dog's anxiety can be quite a challenge.
Some dogs aren't bothered about fireworks at all and will just carry on as usual, others go absolutely nuts and constantly bark, and a handful of poor pooches will just cower in the corner. But don't worry, there's plenty of things you can do to help your beloved dog. Here's our ultimate guide to helping Fido in November when thousands of fireworks displays go off and put our pups on edge.
You need to try and stay calm in the build up to bonfire night. Many owners get very anxious because they are worried about how their dog is going to cope. It's important not to get too anxious yourself, as your dog will pick up on this and become more stressed out. So the first thing you need to do is stay calm.
By doing a little prep in advance of fireworks season, you can stay on top of things and help your dog. Firstly, you need to find out when all the major fireworks displays will be taking place locally, so that you know which nights might be more difficult. Check with your neighbours whether they plan to set off fireworks themselves, as the last thing you want is to be unaware of a loud display going next door, which will be very loud.
Another bit of prep you will need to do is create a safe haven for Fido. This is a quiet place where they can go and feel safe, comfy and secure whilst the fireworks are going off. It could just be a cosy bed in a corner of the house, or you could create a proper little den for them. Some dogs are happy to go into their crate with a cosy bed and a nice soft blanket. Teepees for dogs are a really good idea, as their enclosed shape might make your dog feel more secure and provide a nice little hiding place.
Lastly, you need to make sure there is nowhere where your dog will be able to escape. A lot of dogs get spooked when they hear big bangs and will run for their life. The last thing you want is for your dog to run away on Bonfire Night. Secure doors and windows and check the fencing in your garden, and always take your dog out on the lead if you don't have an enclosed garden.
Close the windows and curtains
Make sure you close your curtains, blinds and windows on fireworks night to try and block out the sound. Your dog also won't be able to see flashing lights which could also worry them. Remember that people often set off fireworks a few days before and after the 5th, so you might want to do the same on these days too.
Drown out the noise by leaving the Television or radio on during the fireworks
One of the best things you can do when fireworks are going off is to find ways to drown out the sound. You can do this by turning the Television or radio on, or playing your dog's favourite tunes in the background. They may still be troubled by the fireworks but at least they won't be as loud. Close all curtains and blinds as this not only drowns out the sound, but it stops your dog from seeing the big flashes of light, which can also terrify them. You can even get noise cancellation headphones for dogs that stop them from hearing the fireworks or play gentle sounds or music. However, not all dogs will tolerate these on their head!
Get toys out and plan games to play with your dog
If you can keep your dog distracted during the fireworks, they will be less startled by the noises. Get some of their toys out ready to play with and plan a few games you can play with them to keep their mind busy. This will also help them to get rid of any nervous energy.
Prepare a safe haven for your dog
In the run up to bonfire night, prepare an area in your home where your dog can go to feel safe. This could be their bed, a crate or a comfy sofa they can snuggle up on. Make sure it is away from windows and doors and in a quiet area.
Find out when local fireworks displays will be taking place
It's useful to know exactly what dates local fireworks displays will be on. These tend to the loudest and the longest fireworks. If you know when they are going to be you can make sure you are at home with your dog, doing everything you can to comfort them. You might also want to ask your neighbours to find out if any of the houses near you are planning to set off fireworks.
During fireworks season, consider stepping up your dog's exercise regime (as long as Fido is fit enough to handle it!). The more tired and exhausted your dog is, the more likely they will relax and be able to cope better with the fireworks. Take your pooch out for nice long walks every day in November, and on the days when you know there's going to be a big display. Don't walk your dog at night during the fireworks displays as this could worsen their anxiety and really stress them out.
Mental stimulation anddistraction techniques
Keeping your dog busy during a fireworks display can help, but if they aren't up for playing, don't force them to do anything they don't want to do. However, if Fido does welcome some distractions, they you can occupy his mind and stop him from thinking about those pesky fireworks so much.
You can do all sorts of things, from buying them some brand new toys and getting out their favourite toys to keep them busy, to trying scent and interactive games. You could play hide and seek with your pooch indoors, or hide some treats or toys around the house for them to find. Keeping their mind active will tire them out and also help to distract their attention. You might want to try out some games and toys before fireworks season begins to see which ones your dog responds to the most.
Don't leave poor Fido unattended
On Bonfire Night especially, if your dog is scared of fireworks and loud noises, do not leave them alone. Some dogs get so stressed they can injure themselves and self harm by chewing, itching and scratching. The last thing you want is for your best friend to be suffering alone. So if you want to head out and enjoy the displays, make sure there's a trustworthy human supervising your pups.
Don't fuss too much
If your dog becomes distressed, try not to baby them too much. If you give them more love and attention than usual, then they might think that something's wrong and become even more worried. The best thing you can do is act normal, and give your dog a bit of comfort if they need it. It can be very tough, but try not to get too stressed yourself as your canine companion will quickly pick up on this and become more upset.
Thankfully, you can get lots of Dog Calming Products to give your dog a helping hand during the fireworks seasons. Things like the thundershirt can help to make your dog feel more at ease. You can also get calming sprays, and Collars which can all help to reduce your dog's anxiety and stress levels. We've got a wide range of special calming products for dogs that can make the fireworks season more bearable.